Inhalation Hazard

It was inevitable. Every hospital I’ve ever worked at, I’ve been a patient at. I thought I’d be getting off easy with a freebie at U of M Hospital, but I proved my precedent correct yesterday.

I was feeling a bit exhausted from Sunday’s roadtrip, but otherwise with no illness symptoms. Right after lunch, I went into the tiny closet restroom across from my office, and was floored with a terrible smell. I really needed to relieve myself, so I thought I’d quickly finish and leave. Upon the throne, my eyes, throat, skin, and lungs started burning. My skin started to blotch up. I looked up in the air, and saw little particulates dancing around. I became lightheaded and dizzily fell off. Someone had used the industrial strength disinfectant spray (for cleaning bathroom surfaces) as an AIR FRESHENER, and sprayed it all through the air.

This chemical spray, which should only be used in a WELL VENTILATED AREA…not a little closet bathroom whose fan turns off with the light. And it wasn’t like a little shot of potpourri spray, it was full-on 80’s AquaNet-like sprayage. It was as potent as oven cleaner. There’s a demon sprayer in my department (I still haven’t figured out who) and I’ve left notes before to please be considerate when using this CLEANER to “freshen”. I’m pretty sure I hit the brunt for a very recent spray. For some reason, the environmental services team leaves this aerosol in the department at all time, just because it’s kinda far-flung from the rest of the public restrooms in the building. I started using those far-flung multi-stall public restrooms, but I didn’t yesterday. I learned my lesson.

I immediately sent an email to Safety Management services, who advised me to go immediately to Employee Health. They said they’d send out an “environmental industrial hygienist” to check out the ventilation in the room. My favorite coworker walked me to the Med Inn and waited for me to be evaluated. Employee health checked my vitals, gave me a puff of Ventolin, and had me rest in the lobby for 15 minutes. Still felt shortness of breath, chest tightness, and eye stinging. They suggested that I be evaluated in the ER. So they wheeled me down, I waited an hour to be triaged, another 45 minutes for chest xrays, and finally 3 hours after the exposure got the breathing treatment.

The morning after, I still feel yucky. My eyes still sting, my breathing is slightly labored, and I really don’t feel like working. However, I’ve got a dentist appointment this morning that I have to get out of bed for. They’ll be checking the tooth abscess from the root canal and see if it’s healed enough to do the crown prep. Haven’t I been through enough already?!?

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